Travel Guide to Kjölur route F35 in Iceland
Kjölur route leads from Gullfoss waterfall to Blönduós. While driving road F35 in Iceland there are many attractions to see such as Hveravellir, Kerlingarfjöll, and Hvítárvatn lake.
Kjölur route in Iceland
Kjölur route is also known as road F35 in Iceland and goes between Langjökull and Hofsjökull on Kjölur plateau in Iceland. It connects the south and the north of Iceland. Starting at the magnificent waterfall Gullfoss that is a part of the Golden Circle, to road number 1 near Blönduós. Kjölur road is between 600 and 700 meters over sea level, it has no rivers to cross but the mountain road can be bumpy and must be driven on a 4x4 vehicle. Kjölur or Kjalvegur is known in Iceland as being a horse trail. In the old days of Iceland when Þingvellir was where the National Assembly gathered in Iceland, it made it easy for people back in the day to travel on horses to Þingvellir through the Kjölur route. Today Þingvellir is a national park and included in the famous Golden Circle along with Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall. It takes around 5 hours to drive the Kjölur road in Iceland.
Kjölur, F35 in Iceland opening periods are from between the end of May until July 1st. The opening of F35 can be different each year as it depends on the weather and when the Kjölur highland road has recovered after the winter period. Here you can see more information about the opening hours of the Kjölur route.
Photo by Einar H. Reynis
What to do on the Kjölur route?
The drive on F35 is highly recommended when visiting Iceland in the summer period. The route of Kjölur is 168 km long and has no rivers to cross. The road however is quite bumpy and it is only allowed to be driven on a 4x4 rental car. Four things are a must-see while driving the Kjölur route. First is Gullfoss, the big waterfall located south of Iceland and a part of the Golden Circle. Second is Hvítárvatn, a lake that water runs from the river Hvítá. The third is Kerlingafjöll, a colourful mountain that has many hiking trails and a great camping facility. The fourth and last place to see on the Kjölur route is Hveravellir. Hveravellir hot springs are a geothermal area in Iceland. Hveravellir has a camping ground and accommodations.
The river Hvítá flows to the south but takes a sharp right turn about a kilometre above the waterfall and flows into a wide curved three-step „staircase“. The highest flood measure of the waterfall was 2,000 cubic meters however the average amount of water running down the waterfall is 141 cubic meters in the summer and 80 cubic meters in winter.
Gullfoss means Golden falls and the origin of its name is unknown. Some speculate that it got its name because when the sunlight hits the waterfall it glows like gold or because of the rainbow that forms in the mist. As the story says, you may find gold at the end of the rainbow.
Hvítárvatn is a lake located about a 30-minute drive from Gullfoss Waterfall, It is a lake that has water from the river Hvítá. Next to Hvítárvatn, you will find the glacier Langjökull. As the lake is surrounded by untouched nature, glaciers, and mountains, it is a place where everybody needs to stop and simply enjoy the breathtaking views.
Kerlingafjöll is a mountain range in the middle of the mountain road F35. It is 1.477m high and it has many hiking trails. We recommend stopping at Kerlingafjöll for one night, kerlingafjöll camping ground is a great place to sleep at. Kerlingarfjöll highland centre has everything needed including toilets, a cooking facility, and a coffee shop. It is perfect to drive on the Kjölur route on a rooftop tent car and camp at Kerlingafjöll camping ground. There are many things to do in Kerlingafjöll. If you stay at Kerlingafjöll highland resort, you can walk the summits of Kerlingafjöll. One of the widest and most open summits of all Icelandic highlands. Stop at the hot springs in Kerlingafjöll. It is a natural pool that is warm and cosy. It was created when trying to drill for hot water in the area. If you are a big hiking person, the ring of Kerlingafjöll is a three-day hiking trail around the Kerlingafjöll mountains. There are also shorter hiking trails in the valley of Kerlingafjöll where you can see the magical colours of Kerlingafjöll mountains. You will also be able to see the glacier Hofsjökull as it is only 15km from the Kerlingafjöll mountains.
To camp at Kerlingafjöll is a very easy and smooth process. Kerlingafjöll camping prices are relatively cheap and include toilet facilities. You do not have to book in advance for camping, however, if you plan to stay at Kerlingafjöll highland resort you do need to book your stay in advance. If you are unsure whether you should visit Kerlingafjöll or Landmannalaugar we recommend reading our blog about Landmannalaugar.
It is not possible to visit Kerlingafjöll in the winter. The road is closed for the general public, but there are some Super Jeep tours to Kjölur during the wintertime. The weather in Kerlingafjöll for the summer period is mild, the temperature can drop down during the night time so it is important to dress well for your stay in Kerlingafjöll.
Hveravellir is a geothermal area on the highland route Kjölur (Also known as road F35). Placed at the end of the glacier Langjökull it is a geothermal hot spring with smoking fumaroles and water holes that are bubbling. It is a one-of-a-kind experience to see the Hveravellir nature reserve in Iceland. Both in the summertime, but also in wintertime. Surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and lava fields, it has breathtaking views everywhere you look.
Hveravellir is one of the most popular hot springs to visit in Iceland. The best way is to travel is in a 4x4 rental car. There are many hiking trails at Hveravellir. Hveravellir hiking trails will lead you through the untouched lava fields and mountain trails.
Hveravellir Hot Spring
Whether you plan to visit Hveravellir to go hiking around the lava fields and mountains or look to relax with the views of Langjökull, then Hveravellir is the place to visit. Hveravellir nature reserve has hot springs that you can go to and relax in a natural pool in the middle of Iceland’s highlands. Just make sure to bring with you swimming clothes and a towel.
The camping ground in Hveravellir includes all necessary facilities needed including toilets. The price to camp in Hveravellir is around 1900 ISK. It is a great place to stop on your camping car in Iceland. If you would like to stay in a lodge at Hveravellir it is also a possibility. Hveravellir mountain lodge is available but you need to book a room in advance. So if you want to both relax in Hveravellir hot springs but also do the amazing hiking trails, camping in Hveravellir is a perfect idea.
What rental car is best to drive the Kjölur route?
When choosing your rental vehicle it is important to keep in mind where you would like to travel and what roads to explore. When driving the Kjölur route you must have a 4x4 vehicle, but it is often tricky to choose what 4x4 vehicle is the best for the job.
We at Icerental 4x4 specialize in 4x4 vehicles providing a wide range of vehicles in all sizes and ages so all groups can find their fit.
Suzuki Jimny - A small off-road SUV recommended for two, but which accommodates up to four passengers. This highly dependable compact 3-door model fits 2-3 bags. It also has large windows to see Iceland’s landscapes, plus a radio/CD player to listen to your favourite music.
Dacia Duster – Dacia Duster has been one of the most popular rental vehicles in Iceland in the past years. It has 4x4, where you can also lock the differential if necessary. It is suitable for four-person with luggage. It has the good ground clearance and is very fuel-efficient for a 4x4 vehicle.
Suzuki Grand Vitara – The Suzuki Grand Vitara is perfect for groups of up to 5 people. It has a large luggage space of almost 750 litres. It has a powerful engine 2,4l and 4WD that can handle all conditions very well. We have it available in three models. Both Automatic and Manual.
Jeep Grand Cherokee – The Cherokee is a great 4x4 vehicle with a large engine making highland travels very easy. It also has a large luggage space and is comfortable for 5 people. What makes our Cherokee special is that we have raised them slightly up and put them on larger tires. These are older models but in great condition.
Ford Expedition – If you are travelling with larger groups the Ford Expeditions is perfect. They have 8 seats, if 8 people are travelling we recommend taking Roof Box for extra luggage space. The Expedition is an automatic transmission and 4WD vehicle. It has a powerful engine and high ground clearance.
Our Camping Cars – We have a wide range of 4x4 camping cars available during the summertime that is perfect for travelling to Kjölur. All from Suzuki Jimny, Dacia Duster, Suzuki Grand Vitara, and also Dodge Durango with XXL rooftop tent for 3-4 people. You can read more about our rooftop tent rooftop tent campers and our camping equipment
When Traveling to Kjölur/Kjalvegur
It is important to respect nature while driving to Kjölur. The landscape is very delicate and it needs to be shown full respect. Driving off-road is illegal in Iceland and it can lead to heavy fines.
It is also important to keep in mind while hiking in Kjölur as well as all mountains to not walk outside of the walking paths and please do not step on the moss. The moss is very vulnerable and takes many years to heal if it is damaged.
We recommend planning your hiking well, having proper clothes and a GPS device. You can visit Safetravel for further information about Iceland and hiking in Iceland.